"Straw - everything I have written before is but straw!"
I think it might have been Thomas Aquinas who made this statement - after a life time of work and suddenly having his eyes open to the glory of God.
I read Alan Roxburgh's latest this Saturday morning, and the feeling he reflects is similar. All these years in the missional conversation, and only now beginning to see! The book is worth a read. There is nothing especially new here, if you are familiar with Alan and his work. But there is a new urgency as he pulls together threads from other books, from recent conversations, and even - yes - Charles Taylor (59).
In fact this is the second book in the missional conversation that I have seen that references "social imaginary." I may have missed other references, but the only other one I know - is my own ("An Emerging Dictionary for the Gospel and Culture." If you know of others, chime in. "Desiring the Kingdom" doesn't count).
Alan's thesis is that we continually ask church questions of the gospel, when we should be having a dialogue. More, he argues that in the trialogue between church, gospel and culture, we are really still in a monologue. There is no real listening to the gospel or to the culture, but rather we import our questions and ways of seeing and so are not able to truly listen. Finally, he makes the point that more STUDY and new STRATEGIES are not the answer.
How to really enter a free and open space? How to listen anew to the Scripture?
Alan walks through Luke-Acts briefly, arguing that we see the same struggle in the early church. The Gospel was ethno-centric and very Jewish. Up until the tenth chapter of Acts, the "language house" (or social imaginary) remained virtually static.Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A rich read - resituating the missional conversation in its rightful placeMarch 5 2011
G. Allan Love
- Published on Amazon.com
If anyone doubts whether anything new could be added to the missional conversation - doubt no more! Roxburgh, in his new book, Missional - Joining God in the Neighborhood, both propels the conversation forward, and rescues it from being derailed, absorbed, held hostage by the church growth/church-centric mindset. Roxburgh convincingly argues that in order to discern and detect God's activity in the world - specifically in our neighborhoods - we need to situate ourselves incarnationally in our communities, with humble hearts and listening ears ... surveys, demographic studies, etc. will not do. Using Luke 10 as the text for our context, Roxburgh shows us the way forward - "If you want to discover and discern what God is up to in the world just now, stop trying to answer this question from within the walls of your churches. Like strangers in need of hospitality who have left their baggage behind, enter the neighborhoods and communities where you live. Sit at the table of the other, and there you may begin to hear what God is doing." His use of Luke's material to forge a way forward for God's people - to missionally enter our ever-changing world is both refreshing and convicting. I am grateful for this book, and do believe as one endorser put it, "to be a tour de force for the missional conversation."
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Counter-Intuitive Approach to MissionJan. 3 2012
Sean A. Benesh
- Published on Amazon.com
Missional is an intriguing book on many fronts. The premise is counter-intuitive to say the least. It is a book about the missional thrust of the church except that the author, Alan Roxburgh, would make the case that the conversation of the book isn't necessarily about the church. That's akin to writing a cook book but not deciminating recipes or even swapping cooking ideas. That's the point and that is the brunt of Roxburgh's argument. As paradoxical as it sounds he's right on.
In the interplay between Scripture, church, and culture, our predisposition is to think first and foremost in terms of church questions - Scripture and culture have become secondary to and a function of the church effectiveness questions. Like a frustrating computer program, we keep returning to the preset position, assuming it's the correct place to be. (45)
In the book Roxburgh walks the reader through the narrative of Luke 10. However, more than a mere commentary, he does a remarkable job of pealing back the layers of our assumed etymology and instead brings forth what he calls a "new language house." Meaning, we've come to the text with a preset lens, filter, and language house that informs and shapes what we see taking place in the story. "A language house predetermines how one sees the world or reads a text." (65) We're stuck in an outmoded language house that no longer fits the cultural milieu of the day as well as subjugates Scripture and culture to the domineering questions and conversation regarding "making church work." Instead, the beauty is to find God already at work in culture outside the bounds and confines of the church. He is wooing humanity and working in our neighbourhoods and cities and yet most often we miss it. This is where Missional does a great job in challenging our thinking.
The strength in the book lies exactly in this counter-intuitive approach. Far from techniques and how-to's it opens the readers' eyes and ears to seek and discover where God is already at work in our midst. It is a call back into the neighborhood and elevates the local and the simple. "The primary way to know what God is up to in our world when the boundary markers seem to have been erased is by entering into the ordinary, everyday life of the neighborhoods and communities where we live." (133) We need to leave our language house baggage behind, enter the neighborhood, sit at the table of others, and hear and learn what God is doing. (135)
On many fronts this book is a challenge to me personally as well as encouraging. First, to recognize indeed that our language house is off and we're in need of a new one. I believe that we're still giving answers to questions that are not being asked ... except by ourselves "in house." We're still dominated by, as Roxburgh calls, church questions. Instead of asking what is the vision of our church we ought to be asking instead what God is doing in our neighbourhoods and in our culture. Then church questions can form around that. Second, Roxburgh elevates the simple, the common, and of course, the neighbourhood. So often we've enlarged our scale or scope to be city-wide, regional, national, or continent-wide, but what about the local? The neighbourhood? The simple, common, and mundane? Are we missing out on the locality of God at work in the smaller scale? Lastly, which builds off the second, the work of God in our neighbourhoods is not confined to the elite, the superstars, or anything like that. God works through the everyday lives or everyday ordinary people ... like the unnamed 72 who were sent out in Luke 10.
I'd highly recommend this book. It's a fast and fun read. Very stimulating, challenging, and at the same time encouraging.
"The Spirit is out there ahead of us, inviting us to listen to the creation groaning in our neighborhoods. Only in the willingness to risk this entering, dwelling, eating, and listening will we stand a chance as the church to bring the embodied Jesus to the world." (151)
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Some good stuff with a lot of who-shot-johnDec 28 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
I've met the author in person and have heard and read some of his personal story. Thought I don't know this for sure, he strikes me as someone who decided ministry wasn't for him and found a way to make a living as a guru telling people still in churches what they're doing wrong. He is good at that. He dedicates the first part of the book - and spends a good portion of the second - to explaining what churches are doing wrong. And in many respects, he's right. He also has a good handle on the cultural shifts that are happening and why they present a challenge to the church. But you can tell that his comfort zone is in the abstract. The middle section of the book is essentially Bible study (incessantly repetitive and narrowly focused on Luke 10) as well as some literature review on Lesslie Newbigin. He has some great things to say, many of which are indisputably true, but when you get to his last section in which he tries to be more practical for the established church, it doesn't feel like the things he puts forth come out of trying and testing them himself. It's full of sentences that begin with "try to find a way to...", and when it comes to church leaders trying to affect change, he doesn't take organizational or family systems theory into account. And at one point, he recommends that churches form "neighborhood teams," contradicting something he had said one chapter previous about missional living not being accomplished through church structures. I can recommend this book to anyone who is totally new to the word "missional" and needs to get some of the basic cultural analysis and biblical interpretation, but if you are a church leader with one foot in both worlds and need some practical advice, look elsewhere.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great! Shocking! Might Be Hard to Swallow!June 24 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I read the draft of this book about four years ago. I found myself making another paradigm shift as I read it. As I followed Alan's personal struggle with what it means to be missional, I realized that I had missed what "missional" actually means. I had thought, along with most, that missional is about a new way of being the church. After all, the church is our "mother" and God's bride.
At that point, I was working with Alan to get this book published. As I pitched the idea of this book to the editor, he said that it sounds like it is "putting mission into missional." This is exactly what it does. It challenges our church-centric focus and invites us to join God in his mission to redeem all of creation. Of course the church has a role in what God is doing in the world, but God's dream is much bigger than just having missional churches. He wants to empower his church for the sake of engaging the world on mission.
To do this, Roxburgh invites us to think about more than the church. He challenges us to enter our neighborhoods and listen to what is going on there. Instead of assuming that the goal is to get more and more people into our church activities, let's engage people where they are and then offer them the Gospel in that setting.
thought provokingApril 11 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Excellent resource to make you look at what you are doing as the Church. Personal belief, I would have begun with the question of what do you believe the Church is? From this point, build the argument. Many do not see the Church as bricks and mortar....so the desire is not the change of the building but the lives. Evangelism and local missions in the purest form.